Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Northwards to the tropics? WUN expedition establishes international collaborative initiative for Arctic research

14.12.2007
Findings from a unique multidisciplinary international scientific expedition to the Arctic, involving scientists from leading universities, are providing new insights into Arctic climate change in the past.

The expedition, by the Worldwide Universities Network-sponsored Palaeo-Arctic Climates and Environments (pACE) group, is the first step in developing a major international programme of research for the future.

The focus of the expedition was Spitsbergen, the largest island in the Svalbard Archipelago, high within the Arctic Circle. The sediments there preserve a continuous record from 65 to approximately 33 million years ago, a time interval of crucial importance, when greenhouse conditions gave way to icehouse conditions.

The researchers were particularly interested in the sudden global climate that occurred about 55 million years ago – the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) – which was probably the warmest episode of the last 65 million years.

Although Svalbard lay much at the same latitude 55 million years ago as it does today, some researchers believe that Arctic temperatures reached 25ºC during the PETM. Although this is still somewhat controversial, there is little doubt that latitudinal temperature gradients were very much reduced.

It is from these sediments that Southampton scientists have extracted forms of tropical plankton which are known to have migrated towards the polar region as PETM temperatures increased. The WUN pACE expedition also discovered leaf fossils typical of modern sub-tropical climates, providing further corroboration that the high Arctic had a much warmer climate at this time.

Eighteen scientists and nine graduate students from Southampton, Pennsylvania State, Oslo, Utrecht, Leeds and Sheffield universities took part in the expedition.

David Pilsbury, Chief Executive of WUN, explains: ‘A whole “alphabet soup” of organisations is seeking to set agendas for research into climate change, particularly in the Arctic. However, there are almost no sources of funding to support coherent international approaches to this issue. The WUN pACE program not only aims to foster a new program of research but to create a new cadre of young researchers with the skills necessary to transcend the discipline-bound approaches that can limit the impact of the knowledge we gain about the Earth.’

Dr Ian Harding, of the University of Southampton’s School of Ocean and Earth Science and a member of the expedition, says: ‘Understanding the palaeoenvironments of past greenhouse episodes is crucial to inform investigations of the potential effects of ongoing climate change.

‘Whilst in the Arctic, the group benefited from detailed explanations of the critical features of the geological successions by experts in a variety of different research fields. Being able to compare these observations and interpretations with the findings of other expedition participants in different geographical areas and different parts of the geological timescale was invaluable. This is something made possible only by the collaboration of an international group of experts.

‘WUN pACE has set an excellent precedent by involving both postgraduate and undergraduate students in the evolution of an international interdisciplinary research project, something that is rarely achieved, and an invaluable learning experience – even if initially a little daunting for some of them!’ he adds.

Senior pACE expedition members will be reconvening in Leeds in January 2008 to discuss the preliminary findings of their pilot study of the samples collected this summer, and to take forward the next phase of their research. This will include formulating a research schedule designed to better understand the behaviour of the different components of the Earth system – vegetation, oceans, climate, and atmosphere – in these high northern latitudes during this critical period of past global climate change.

Sarah Watts | alfa
Further information:
http://www.soton.ac.uk

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Mineral discoveries in the Galapagos Islands pose a puzzle as to their formation and origin
19.10.2018 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

nachricht Massive organism is crashing on our watch
18.10.2018 | S.J. & Jessie E. Quinney College of Natural Resources, Utah State University

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Goodbye, silicon? On the way to new electronic materials with metal-organic networks

Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) in Mainz (Germany) together with scientists from Dresden, Leipzig, Sofia (Bulgaria) and Madrid (Spain) have now developed and characterized a novel, metal-organic material which displays electrical properties mimicking those of highly crystalline silicon. The material which can easily be fabricated at room temperature could serve as a replacement for expensive conventional inorganic materials used in optoelectronics.

Silicon, a so called semiconductor, is currently widely employed for the development of components such as solar cells, LEDs or computer chips. High purity...

Im Focus: Storage & Transport of highly volatile Gases made safer & cheaper by the use of “Kinetic Trapping"

Augsburg chemists present a new technology for compressing, storing and transporting highly volatile gases in porous frameworks/New prospects for gas-powered vehicles

Storage of highly volatile gases has always been a major technological challenge, not least for use in the automotive sector, for, for example, methane or...

Im Focus: Disrupting crystalline order to restore superfluidity

When we put water in a freezer, water molecules crystallize and form ice. This change from one phase of matter to another is called a phase transition. While this transition, and countless others that occur in nature, typically takes place at the same fixed conditions, such as the freezing point, one can ask how it can be influenced in a controlled way.

We are all familiar with such control of the freezing transition, as it is an essential ingredient in the art of making a sorbet or a slushy. To make a cold...

Im Focus: Micro energy harvesters for the Internet of Things

Fraunhofer IWS Dresden scientists print electronic layers with polymer ink

Thin organic layers provide machines and equipment with new functions. They enable, for example, tiny energy recuperators. In future, these will be installed...

Im Focus: Dynamik einzelner Proteine

Neue Messmethode erlaubt es Forschenden, die Bewegung von Molekülen lange und genau zu verfolgen

Das Zusammenspiel aus Struktur und Dynamik bestimmt die Funktion von Proteinen, den molekularen Werkzeugen der Zelle. Durch Fortschritte in der...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Conference to pave the way for new therapies

17.10.2018 | Event News

Berlin5GWeek: Private industrial networks and temporary 5G connectivity islands

16.10.2018 | Event News

5th International Conference on Cellular Materials (CellMAT), Scientific Programme online

02.10.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Mineral discoveries in the Galapagos Islands pose a puzzle as to their formation and origin

19.10.2018 | Earth Sciences

Less animal experiments on the horizon: Multi-organ chip awarded

19.10.2018 | Life Sciences

New method uses just a drop of blood to monitor lung cancer treatment

19.10.2018 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>